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How we test, review, and rate on Wargamer

We base every review on honest, experienced, and rigorous testing. Here’s how Wargamer reviews board games, tabletop RPGs, and more.

How Wargamer reviews games - Wargamer photo showing a selection of board games in the Network N Media office in Bath, UK

The world of tabletop games is growing all the time, with tons of tantalising new nerdy stuff dropping constantly. It can be tricky to keep up with – but that’s what we’re here for! Wargamer’s experienced editorial team tests between 60 and 100 games, models, and other products every year to help you decide where best to spend your hobby dollars.

As well as releasing at least one dedicated review every week, we maintain a huge library of buying guides that track and compare very best choices in every category a tabletop nerd could dream of. From paintbrushes, to Pikachu cards, to pirate-themed board games, trust us – we’ve got you covered.

Wargamer relaunched in 2021, and every member of our team is not only a trained journalist, but a passionate tabletop gamer with buckets of background knowledge and years of experience playing and analyzing the games we love. When we test things, we try to get to the heart of what they are and what they’re trying to do. We critique every product fairly, transparently, and in appropriate context, considering who we think it’s right for, and who might not like it as much.

It’s important to us that you trust the way we review – we aim to be rigorous, reliable, and fair. We also want our buying advice to be structured and repeatable, making it easy for you to compare reviews and find the right choice for your taste, needs, and budget.

What does Wargamer review?

With tabletop games booming, there’s a non-stop deluge of new board games, tabletop RPG books, Warhammer kits, Magic: The Gathering releases, Lego sets, and more coming out every single month that we’d love to give you the lowdown on. In order to deliver the quality of coverage you expect from Wargamer, though, we’re selective about which products we test and review.

We aim to tackle the most important landmark releases to reflect what’s new in the tabletop world. But we want to make our mark on that world, too – so our writers also review things they feel passionately about, hoping to inform and inspire readers, perhaps turning them on to games they’d never heard of before.

Our buying guides regularly rate and compare the latest and greatest options in tabletop and PC gaming, hobby gear, and collectibles. As well as our own analysis and recommendations, we include as much contextual information as we can about every item – including key points like optimum number of players, game length, rules complexity, and price range – to help you find the right stuff for your needs. 

Editorial ethics

Our review coverage is 100% independent and will only ever recommend games and products that we genuinely think are worth your time, offering the best in design, performance, or value. In short, what we write isn’t dictated by an affiliate partner or an advertiser.

We often work with game PR and publishers, as well as hardware manufacturers, to request game and product samples for review, but we’ll never cover a product or give it a more positive review simply because of that.

We may earn a small affiliate commission when you click through to buying links in our guides and reviews, but that doesn’t affect our coverage or scoring. All of our in-house team of writers and freelance reviewers are paid separately for their writing, and they don’t earn any bonus or payment of any kind for giving products a better score.

Wargamer does work with brands to create sponsored articles, but these are clearly labeled at the top of the page, and entirely separate from our editorial reviews. We will never accept payment for reviewing a game or product. For more information, read our full editorial policy


At Wargamer, when we review a game or product, we score it out of ten. Below, you’ll find an explanation of how we choose review scores and what they mean to us. Of course, scores are only designed to be a summary of the reviewer’s opinion, and it’s always worth reading the full review to see what was said about a certain feature or aspect of the game or product.

  1. Failure
  2. Terrible
  3. Bad
  4. Below mediocre
  5. Mediocre
  6. Above mediocre
  7. Generally good
  8. Very good
  9. Exceptional
  10. Industry-leading or defining 

How we test board games

When we’re testing the best board games, we start by evaluating the game’s physical production values, build quality, and aesthetics, including all game components, storage, and printed rules. We’re looking for attractive and intuitive design features; impressive elements that contribute to the game’s theme and feel; attention to detail; and a well crafted user experience.

Once that’s done, we’ll learn and play the game, starting with the included game mode or version we think best matches the average player’s needs, before moving on to any alternative modes. During play, we rigorously analyze every aspect of the experience, including mechanics, theme, complexity, player interaction, pacing, competitive balance, and more.

We’ll always spend as much time as we feel is required to experience the breadth of what a game offers – which naturally varies between types and genres of game, but always includes several full game sessions. Some titles – especially legacy board games – require significantly more extensive play to get a full picture.

We strive to bring you a complete review as soon as any embargo has lifted – but, in cases where we’ve had limited lead time for testing, or where the game needs a particularly large time investment to give a fair evaluation, we will instead delay publication or create a review-in-progress, which we’ll then add a score to once we’re confident we’ve spent enough time with the game. 

How we test tabletop RPG products

When testing a tabletop RPG product, we assess the quality of two main things: the play experience it offers; and the physical product itself. The gameplay experience remains our most important rating factor at all times. After all, a TTRPG book could be gorgeous to look at on your shelf, but terrible to play.

When testing an RPG product, we’ll spend as much time as we feel is necessary to completely evaluate the game from both the player’s and the game master’s perspective. We’ll read and consider all rules, and a large portion of the narrative and world building materials provided.

In rulebooks, we’ll assess the whole rule set for clarity and complexity, considering how they’ll suit newcomers and veteran players alike. We’ll evaluate how well the mechanics of the game convey its themes.

If we’re checking out a campaign, narrative nuance will also determine our final review score. Is the story interesting and satisfying to play out? Do the players have room to explore, or is the experience ‘railroaded’ onto one track? Are the characters and settings suitably fleshed out? We consider all these questions and more.

We always endeavor to play several full game sessions of any new RPG system or expansion before reviewing it. On occasions where this isn’t possible due to a short lead time, we’ll always call this out and address any limitations within the review. 

How we test trading card game products

At Wargamer, we believe the most important aspect of any new trading card game release is how enjoyable it is to play, and what qualities it adds to the game experience. We will always put gameplay above cards’ resale value – but we’re also committed to helping you judge value for money. When we review new trading card game products, we take great care to present a balanced, accurate picture of the product’s underlying features, because (usually) the cards we received and tested won’t be the same ones you’ll get if you buy it.

When testing, we gather as much information as possible about which cards /are/ included in the product and which /may/ be included, as well as the current state of the TCG it’s based in, considering other recent releases. Our aim is not just to give our opinion of the product in hand – but inform you on where it fits into the game’s meta and community.

Some products, such as starter decks, have preset card lists. In testing these, we focus first on the gameplay experience the deck will offer you, and, second, on the inherent attractions and downsides of the cards included, evaluating their artwork and design, as well as considerations of card rarity and value, to give a reasoned verdict on overall value for money.

Similarly, with ‘random’ TCG products such as set booster boxes, we’ll first analyze the key gameplay themes, mechanics, and experiences you’ll get from playing with the set’s cards. Then we investigate the complete card list and – where we have reliable data – estimated pull rates for that set, so you have a better idea of your chances to nab something valuable. 

How we test miniature wargame products and model kits

Because of the variety and modular nature of miniature wargame products, our review priorities have to flex significantly depending on the type of product we’re testing, what it’s for, and the characteristics we think are most important to fans.

When testing a wargame starter set – including not just miniatures, but all the rules and materials needed to play out of the box – the approach is similar to our board game review method above. We view the whole set (packaging and all) as a self-contained product, and critique it as such – with extra consideration of how good a springboard it is for a new player to get into the broader game.

When we review products aimed at existing miniature wargame players – be they large army box sets, smaller kits containing a handful of models, or single character minis – we narrow our focus to answer the crucial questions that’ll help you decide if the set is right for you. This can include assessing the models’ in-game rules and narrative, as well as any alternate build options, bases, transfers, tokens, or cards included. When we know the product’s exact price, we’ll consider value for money, both in basic terms of dollars by weight, and how useful an addition the models might be to your army.

Whatever the product, we’ll always build all the models using the instructions provided, and give our full and honest opinion on their design, production quality, ease of construction, and any important faults or foibles. With sufficient lead time, we’ll also paint some models, and share our thoughts on the mini painting experience on offer. 

How we test Lego sets

We at Wargamer love Lego because – just like the best tabletop games – it’s tactile, creative, cerebral, and rewards patience and care. Consequently, when we review the best Lego sets, we look at the product from every angle – considering fundamental specs like number of pieces, final model dimensions, build time, included minifigures, and so on, before digging into our own opinions and assessments about the overall experience.

When testing any Lego set, we’ll critically evaluate how easy or difficult, and how enjoyable it is to build from start to finish. We pay constant, close attention to every aspect of the set’s design, looking for satisfying details, elegant flourishes, interactive and playable elements, shelf displayability, and – of course – how well the finished set evokes its theme and subject.

Our final verdict on any Lego set includes a careful consideration of value for money compared with other sets we’ve tested, and a clear opinion on who we think it would suit, versus who might not enjoy it. 

How we test videogames and DLC

Wargamer has a proud history of reviewing strategy and tactics driven PC and videogames that dates back to the site’s inception in 1995. Today, that’s a smaller part of our mission, with tabletop gaming taking center stage. But we still love digital games, and regularly review new PC and videogames, especially strategy games with tabletop-style mechanics, and titles set in our favorite tabletop universes, like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons.

As with our approach to board games, we’ll always spend as much time as we feel necessary to experience the full range of what a videogame offers, before embarking on a review. In games with a complete single player campaign, that often means playing at least one campaign through to completion – but there will also be cases where we don’t feel this is a necessity to deliver an informed, thorough, and decidedly expert analysis.

We always make every effort to bring you reviews on the embargo. However, in cases where we have not been given sufficient lead time, we’ll either release the final review a little later, or create a review-in-progress, which will get a final score only once we’re confident we’ve got the full measure of the game.